Bill Kristol is getting a regular Times column, and the intersphere is atwitter. Says Balko:
This would be the same William Kristol who for the last seven years—actually, for his entire life, really—has been wrong about just about everything. Most recently and notably, he’s been wrong to the tune of a few thousand dead U.S. troops, who knows how many dead Iraqis, and what will likely be more than $1 trillion of U.S. tax dollars down the pisser. And he’ll now have the most influential chunk of real estate in journalism from which to trumpet his perpetual wrongness. Makes you wonder, exactly how many major screw-ups does a guy need to make in this town for people to stop taking him seriously? Really. What possible insights could William Kristol have left to fill two columns per week—particularly that aren’t already filling David Brooks’ space on the page?The idea that it matters whether or not Bill Kristol has been right or wrong, that the relevance of observable facts to the world as he describes it has anything to do with his pundiferous existence, is rather quaint. I am not, in any case, entirely convinced that "wrong" is exactly the proper descriptor. It implies, I think, that to some extent Kristol's job involves observing world events, analyzing them through the lenses of politics, economics, culture, and history, and producing insights that allow men with lesser access to information and poorer interpretive abilities to see more clearly. But neither you nor I nor Radley Balko really believes that Bill Kristol sat down and concluded that it was wise and necessary to invade Iraq, say. The necessity of invading Iraq was embedded in the current Zeitgeist of the American empire, and Kristol's task was to provide some more or less publicly palatable ideas about why this inevitable thing was, inevitably, going to happen.
It also means the roster of Times columnists will now run the full gamut of political opinion—from big government liberals (Dowd, Krugman, Herbert) to big government conservatives (Brooks, Kristol), to big government moderates (Kristof, Friedman). Sadly, I think we’ve reached the point where many people, particularly in journalism, really do believe that this is the fullest possible range of respectable political opinion.
As for how a propagandist came to be hired by the venerable Sulzberger family newsletter, well, the question rather answers itself. Radley is right to note a certain . . . favorably pro-government bent to the Times opinionmaking section. Big government conservatives; big government liberals. I agree with Radley here, but I think he's misnaming the malady. How about something a little more melodious. How about, Imperialists?